How far can you get? Our experience in the field shows that most pig producers are still not able to answer this question, and unfortunately most Brazilian pig farmers do not work with well-defined goals. To change this scenario, we invite you to build a map for your business, determining the departure and the arrival points, as well as the actions that should be taken along the way.
The first step is to identify, based on good-quality information, your current production status. Analyze the production indicators and use this diagnosis to evaluate which are the opportunities for improving performance.
Once you defined your departure point, establish an annual production goal. This means that in the beginning of each year, you need to define a goal to achieve. This goal will affect all indicators identified in the first step. For instance, if the goal is to deliver 15,600 piglets per year, with a productivity of 30 weaned piglets per sow per year, you will know that you will need at least 520 productive sows. After this is defined – and duly recorded in your production map – you will need to divide the annual goal into monthly deliveries, and then into weekly deliveries.
These goals must be based both on your production potential and on the resources available to achieve them, including management practices, labor, and facilities. To aid this process, you can compare your farm’s performance against that obtained by farms with similar infrastructure. This is known as benchmarking, and you can use the database Agriness Top Pig Producers to determine achievable goals.
In addition of guiding your management process, your team will be stimulated when these goals are presented. Therefore, the goals should be discussed with all workers and sectors involved in production. It is essential to show that the work of each employee influences the final results. The weekly meetings are excellent opportunities to reinforce this.
For instance, do the employees that work in the farrowing unit clearly know how many farrowings are needed each week or how many piglets need to be weaned weekly to achieve the annual production goal? What is the maximum acceptable mortality rate? This is why the annual and monthly goals need to be established on weekly basis. In addition of knowing how to perform their activities, each worker must have a clear understanding why they need to do them.
After defining the delivery goal, you need to identify the challenges you and team need to overcome to achieve them. First, you have to find why the current situation is different from your goal. What do you need to change to direct the farm processes towards the defined goals?
Based on the responses to these and other questions, you will be able to establish the best route to your destination. Once you have collected the farm’s data, benchmarked your data against other farmers, defined your goals, and identified the critical points, you are ready to start. Get to work!
What about you? Do you already use goals for your operation?
One of the main problems of pig production management is the lack of planning. As most pig producers are used to making decisions based on the past, they find it hard to think their businesses far ahead. If you are one of them, it is time to change.
A good start to change is to understand a new concept: the ideal group. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, the proposal is quite simple: identify and invest in the best group of animals on your farm. However, in order to do so, you will need accurate and systematized herd information that will allow you to evaluate breeding, farrowing, and weaning indexes, for instance.
In general, the indicator that defines the ideal group is the number of piglets produced per sow per year. Based on this indicator, the sows which indexes are below that herd average should be replaced by well-developed gilts to increase productivity.
And this requires planning, as gilt replacement must be made on time in order not to negatively affect production. Culling sows only after weaning increases the risk of not having a sufficient number of good-quality gilts for replacement. This has a direct impact on breeding goals, and may cause further losses, as low-production sows are maintained in the herd, in addition of resulting in poor group uniformity.
We suggest that you evaluate sow results during gestation (70 days after mating, for instance) and not at weaning, which is typically done. This will allow you to have the time required – from gilt selection to their effective inclusion in the breeding herd – to properly develop the gilts, making them more productive during their lives.
The distinguishing feature of excellence farms is anticipation – to carefully plan every production step. Planning optimizes results, significantly improving farm performance, as it helps eliminating losses related to the maintenance of unproductive animals. Remember: you have to act now, but think ahead. The farther we look, the lower are the risks along the way.
What about you? Did you know the ideal group concept?